Fraud Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with some of the ways fraud can occur. And this is a good time to give you with some easy tips and information on financial security and safety.
Home support often takes place in a person’s own home. Some people may be more at risk than others of being the victims of financial abuse or theft of belongings. Although Mycare conducts criminal history checks and vets all workers before allowing use of the platform it is still wise to be vigilant and take steps to protect your personal property.
Protecting your bank details
Mycare promotes keeping all cash, debit cards/credit cards and cheque books stored securely out of sight. If you are an organiser for a senior family member or a family member with a disability and are worried that your loved one might lose track of their spending or be vulnerable to financial abuse, we recommend that you ensure cash is secure during booked worker visits and that debit/credit cards and cheque books are either stored offsite or stored securely.
If a support worker is required to make purchases for the client then ask them to provide all receipts, then check receipts to ensure only authorised items were purchased, and check receipt amounts against bank statements. In these situations it may be best to have a prepaid debit card loaded with the required amount of money. Do not leave cash or debit/credit cards lying about the home. With the boom in online shopping and the ease of making online purchases it is vital to keep all debit/credit cards out of sight. It is very simple to take a picture of the front and back of a credit card and make online purchases.
If you are out with a support worker and need to pay for items, it’s safest to use payWave so you don’t have to type in your PIN number, especially as there could be times when you are unable to access an Eftpos machine for example when purchasing fuel. Or, when you are planning an outing, check the relevant websites for the cost of any activities and have the correct amount of cash on you.
It pays to keep your full date of birth unknown to your workers as this information can also be used to access your private information. And, of course, never divulge your PIN to anyone.
Email and online scams
Beware of emails and websites that ask for personal details such as date of birth, address, drivers licence, passport details or bank account details. Many scams these days appear in the form of an email from your bank. Once the fraudsters have your bank details they can access your identity and your money. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, change your online banking passwords immediately and contact your bank immediately. Never give anyone else access to your account. To be protected and eligible for reimbursement for any losses, you must have taken the necessary steps to protect yourself. Your bank will then protect you. If you contact your bank immediately to alert them if you suspect fraudulent activity, your accounts can be frozen to prevent further transactions and appropriate investigative measures can be taken. Your bank will never ask for your login details and/or passwords so beware of any emails from ’banks’ that ask for this, no matter how legitimate the email appears.
How to spot signs that you/your loved one or the person you support may be the victim of financial abuse
- Monitor bills and check bank statements
- If bills are left unpaid or large sums of money have been withdrawn from a person’s bank account, this could indicate either they’re not managing financially or they may have been scammed.
- Beware of unusual or seemingly unneeded purchases in the home
- These items could have been sold by unscrupulous cold callers or telesales companies. You only have a set amount of time to report fraud to your bank to have your money refunded.
- Look out for unexpected changes to the person’s house
- This could include incomplete renovations, missing valuables or workers visiting to carry out unnecessary work.
- Beware of sudden new friends or acquaintances
- In particular, beware of those who the person says are inquiring about moving in, taking trips together or making joint financial commitments.
- Check that large amounts of cash are not being kept in the home
- Large amounts of cash will put the vulnerable person at unnecessary risk of theft.
- Alert the appropriate authorities.
- If you have a loved one or you work with a person with a disability or cognitive impairment and are concerned about financial abuse or wrongdoing then please alert their bank, the police and Mycare if you suspect a member of the Mycare community is involved.
How to protect yourself and/or a loved one from online scams
- Check the legitimacy of people emailing you and/or your loved one. Scammers usually try to hide their identity
- Keep computer security software up to date
- Only give out personal information/details such as full name, birthdate, drivers licence etc. to trusted organisations and individuals.
- Never share log-in details and passwords
- Beware of emails from unknown companies and individuals
- Beware of any ‘bank’ email asking for your account details. Your bank will never ask for your login details and/or passwords
- Avoid using public WIFI and public computers for online banking and shopping
- Never save your card details with online stores when making purchases
- Do not click on links in suspicious emails
- Do not reply to suspicious looking emails
- Only use online banking on secure websites that have a padlock symbol in the address bar.
If you think you may be vulnerable to financial abuse here is a checklist for managing your finances
- Discuss money management with your family
- Money can be a difficult subject to talk about, but it’s important you plan how you want your finances to be managed if you become unable to look after them yourself.
- Make sure that all important papers are in order
- Know where to find them. These might include bank statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, a will, tax and pension details and bills or guarantees.
- Set up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
- This enables you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things such as paying bills and collecting income if you become unable to. Find out more from your own solicitor or go to publictrust.co.nz. The Ministry of Social Development has more information on Enduring Powers of Attorney. See govt.nz
- Speak to your bank
- Contact your local branch. Staff have been trained to assist you and can offer ways of managing money such as having a separate account with a smaller amount of funds that can be accessed, setting up direct debits for all utilities accounts, and having an alternative contact person noted on file for when assistance might be required.
- Put a ‘Do not knock’ sticker on your door or letterbox to avoid door-to-door sellers - Free stickers can be obtained from org.nz or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Resene Colour Shop.
- Know your rights
- If you do buy goods or services and the value is more than $100, you have the right to cancel the deal within 5 working days of receiving the written agreement.
- Stop junk mail and unwanted telephone calls
- The New Zealand Marketing Association operates ‘do not mail’ and ‘do not call’ registers. It’s free to add your home contact details to this register. Note this isn’t fool proof as the registers only apply to the 500 New Zealand Marketing Association members. Visit org.nz and add yourself to the ‘do not call’ and ‘do not mail’ registers or write (with your full name, address and telephone number) to: Do Not Mail and Do Not Call Registers, Marketing Association, PO Box 47681, Ponsonby, Auckland.
For extra support Westpac has recently become New Zealand’s first dementia-friendly bank – the principles, information and advice that Westpac provides for clients with a dementia diagnosis can also be applied to anyone who may need some extra financial security.
Where to go for further help and advice
Planning your finances: www.publictrust.co.nz
Stop unwanted calls and junk mail: www.marketing.org.nz
Avoid scams: www.scambusters.co.nz
Who to call to report abuse: if a crime is committed call the Police. In an emergency (if someone is in danger of immediate harm or a crime is being committed) call 111. At other times contact your nearest police station: www.police.govt.nz